Normally the term “playoff atmosphere” isn’t used to describe games one week into the season but the Los Angeles Kings’ two games against the Vancouver Canucks to open the season felt like a continuation of their first round playoff series from last season.
The Canucks beat the Kings in a grueling six-game series five months ago but their performance was viewed by many as the coming out party for the youngest team in the NHL. The Kings came into the season wanting to prove they were playing for more than moral victories and pats on the head, and did so by beating the Canucks 2-1 in the season opener in Vancouver last Saturday and dominating them 4-1 in Los Angeles Friday night.
“There’s a great deal of importance to the game,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Any time you lose in a playoff series like we did last year, there’s checkmarks on the schedule and those are the games you really want to come back and give solid efforts in.”
After the game the Kings acknowledged there isn’t much love lost between them and the Canucks, but two wins against Vancouver to open the season isn’t exactly the revenge they're seeking. That might come later in the season or if they meet again in the playoffs.
“I don’t know if it’s revenge, I think the rivalry has increased with intensity,” Brown said. “I think right now we’re not really worried about what happened last year, we’re worried about what we’re going for ahead. We play them two more times so I think what happens out there as the real result of last year is that the intensity is pretty high.”
Here’s what Murray had to say after the game:
The Kings sealed the win when Anze Kopitar and Brown responded to a goal by Daniel Sedin off a pass from his brother Henrik in the third period. Less than a minute after the Sedins cut the Kings’ lead to 2-1, Kopitar eluded Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa and slipped the puck to Brown, who was parked in front of the net, and scored to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. Brown later extended the Kings lead to 4-1.
Here’s Brown talking about his goal and the win:
And here’s Kopitar talking about connecting with Brown and beating the Canucks: